Age to Age; An Amy Grant Story; by Philip Mayabb
There are albums that will forever be considered “cornerstone” classics in the history of Contemporary Christian music, and this week’s Vinyl Revival LP, Amy Grant’s Age To Age, is absolutely one of the albums on that list. It was Amy’s first album to sell 1,000,000 units, earning it the RIAA Platinum LP Award, and is still one of the fans favorites, 36 years after it was released. The numbers are staggering…4 tracks from the album are on the CD version of The Collection. According to http://www.topchristianhits.org/christian-music-albums-1980s.html, Age To Age, is #8 on the list of top CCM albums – from 1985-1989! Not bad for an album that was released in 1982. The album won some awards too…4 Dove Awards (Contemporary Album Of The Year, and Packaging Of The Year for Amy, and both Songwriter Of The Year and Song Of The Year for El-Shaddai, those awards went to Michael Card), and 1 Grammy Award (Best Gospel Performance, Contemporary). So, it is easy to see why this album is so special.
As of 1981, Amy Grant’s career had been dotted with hits and misses. A well received debut album in 1977, and a 1980 GMA year end top 10 song (Father’s Eyes). But her third album, 1980’s “Never Alone” was a step backward…to this day, it is Amy’ worst selling album ever (it’s still pretty good though, my opinion). Then a pair of live albums released in 1981, and recorded with the DeGarmo & Key Band, steered her back in the right direction, and set her up for her 6th album. Producer Brown Bannister decided to shake things up a little bit, and move some of the recording sessions out of Nashville, and so everyone who performed on the album was summoned to the world renowned Caribou Ranch in Nederland Colorado, the very same studios in which Chicago had recorded several of their biggest albums in the 70s. All of the performers (singers, musicians, production personnel, and engineers) were dispatched to Colorado, where they all stayed in the cabins that had been built on the property. I’ve often heard artists say that recording there was an “organic” experience, and I’m inclined to believe it, because the music and vocals on Age To Age are unlike anything that Amy had recorded previously.
Over the prior three years, Amy had developed a close relationship with singer/songwriter Gary Chapman. They had become acquainted in 1979, when Chapman wrote “Father’s Eyes” for Amy’s second album, and they had worked together on Amy’s album Never Alone. By the time that the sessions for Age To Age had begun, their relationship (both professional and personal) had became serious. They co-wrote 4 of the album’s 10 songs, and Chapman had co-written a fifth song on the album with an up and coming writer named Michael W. Smith. In addition, Gary also sang a duet with her on the song “Got To Let It Go”, but it was in the personal department where the two singers had gotten REAL serious…it was in the Special Thanks acknowledgements that Amy made broke the hearts of many young men with this entry…
The announcement, of course, was that she had accepted a wedding proposal, which saddened many young single Christian men.
Once the album was released, the hits began playing on CCM radio, and Amy Grant became a star. Two of the album’s three main singles were the classically influenced “Sing Your Praise To The Lord”, along with the album’s leadoff track “In A Little While” which both cracked the top 10 on the CCM Magazine chart, but it was the album’s second single, Michael Card’s “El Shaddai” that established Amy as CCM’s #1 artist. A number one hit, this song is still considered one of her biggest signature songs of all time, and is still a fan favorite. In late 1982, it was impossible to turn on the radio, and not hear this all time classic. The three singles, combined with a very good supporting song list on the album, clinched the Dove and Grammy awards, and the album remained one of the genre’s top charting albums all the way through 1987. The other Michael Card song on the album, “I Have Decided” has long been considered the album’s “fourth single”, and was a very popular song on the Age To Age tour. Often forgotten is the fact that not one, but two major artists of the 80s made their recording debut on this album, Michael W. Smith, who has already been mentioned, had already began to gain notoriety in Nashville for his writing skills, but he also was a great keyboardist, which was one his duties on the album, beginning a long and successful professional friendship between himself and Amy. The other artist who made their recording debut on Age To Age, was a young lady who had recently relocated to Nashville from her native New York, and had co-written “Raining On The Inside” with Amy, and provided backing vocals as well…her name was Kathy Troccoli. Of course, Kathy and Michael would be two of the first artists signed to Reunion Records later in 1982, and they both went on to long and successful careers.
Age To Age is another of those “must have” albums that anyone who considers themselves a serious CCM fan should have in their collection…I actually have four copies of it myself. It has ten wonderful songs, and not a bad one on the list. Outside of the singles, songs such as “I Love A Lonely Day”, “Don’t Run Away” and the comedy laced “Fat Baby” make this an album for the ages. It was one of the very first albums I ever bought on compact disc, and to this day, I STILL enjoy listening to this album. I believe one of the reasons I like it so much is because this was the album that Amy began to mature musically with, and it definitely established the path that her career would take for the rest of the 80s and beyond.
In my experience, there are certain albums that will generate feelings and memories every time they are listened to. Age To Age is one of those albums, for me at least…it has all the bases covered – great songs, great vocals, exceptional musical tracks, and superb production. With all that included, it’s hard to ask much more of an LP, and that is one of the biggest reasons why Age To Age is still so well respected and loved today. I sincerely hope you will enjoy listening to it this week on Vinyl Revival!
- In A Little While
- I Have Decided
- I Love A Lonely Day
- Don’t Run Away
- Fat Baby
- Sing Your Praise To The Lord
- El Shaddai
- Raining On The Inisde
- Got To Let It Go (featuring Gary Chapman)
10.Arms Of Love
One final note…you’ll probably notice as you listen to this album that my vinyl copy has more scratches and pops than any album I have played to date, which is because I played this record A LOT!! Just further testimony and proof of how good Age To Age really is!
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